Written by: Billie Clarke
Hello again! This is the penultimate blog post about the TDSA. By now I’ve introduced both Tiffany, the Administrative Coordinator, and Shawn, the President. This post is about one of the two Vice-President positions students can run for: the Vice-President of University Affairs. I interviewed this year’s VPUA, Chris Fernlund, to find out more about what the job entails, why he wanted to do it, and some hints and advice he has for interested students.
The Vice-President of University Affairs has an important, if not entirely glamourous, role within the Student Association. With both internal and external components to the job, the VPUA aims to make the university experience for our students better, through policy. The VPUA manages the board of directors, responds to inquiries, ensures that the TDSA is running efficiently and conducting itself appropriately as a not-for-profit organization. The VPUA also works with the city and municipality, regarding things like transit and other aspects that impact students. There are many facets to this role that can be explored, and Chris is extremely involved this year, on top of his other positions within the realm of university committees.Chris is an executive on the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, as well as a member of the Steering Committee within the organization. As part of his role as the VPUA of TrentU Durham, he also sits on various Trent University committees, such as the Undergraduate Academic Policy Committee, Organizational Review and Development, and TDSA Cares, to name a few. On top of representing TrentU Durham students provincially, through OUSA, and within Trent University, he also represents TrentU Durham students as a voting member of the Senate, ensuring our representation in Peterborough. Chris is also a board member for the Ontario Council of Articulation and Transfer, which helps to improve credit transfer within Ontario.
Chris, much like Shawn, decided to run for his position with the aim of reform and improvement. Since the start of the reformation of the TDSA this year, Chris has been researching and writing policy in order to ensure that the TDSA runs as a not-for-profit organization. He aims to set a standard for student government at a university level: he wants to “propel TDSA from infancy to full maturity.”
Chris’s advice for students interested in the position of Vice-President of University of Affairs: “read, read, read.” He says that understanding the Trent University system—the bicameral governance, comprised of the Senate and the Board of Governors—as well as reading, and understanding, all of the policy with the intention of holding the administration accountable, cannot be overlooked. It is important to understand university funding, OUSA as an organization, and the operation of the provincial government. Chris states that it is important for any interested students to remember that, as VPUA, you will generally be dealing with high level issues that most of the university population doesn’t particularly know or care about. It is also impossible to overstress the importance of professionalism, as the VPUA meets with many important and influential people—Chris has met with the Premier of Ontario, various M.P.P.s, the minister of the MTCU (Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities), as well as stakeholders—and networking is an important aspect of the role. It is important, according to Chris, to develop a passion for student affairs to gain motivation within this role.
Chris does a lot of work off-campus, but he is very personable and willing to chat if you see him around. You can also reach him by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions about his role within the TDSA, OUSA, or anything else. The next post will be the last of the TDSA executive introductions: Nick Ashmore as the Vice-President of Campus Life.